It epitomised pretty much what had happened in most of the previous 63 games throughout this last 31 days of the 19th FIFA World Cup.
One team wanted to play football the other didn’t, they just wanted to avoid losing by stopping the other side through mainly scummy tactics. Thankfully it the end it didn’t work for the Dutch.
It’s been a bad World Cup, all he way through there’s been no outstanding matches, very few if any take your breath away moments. It’s not a World Cup that’ll be remembered past the fact it was staged in Africa for the first time. Which certainly doesn’t make it a great World Cup, but then the locals should be used to the head patting by now, they’ve had plenty of it over the last four weeks.
As for the final, well I couldn’t believe the amount of neutrals that were supporting the Dutch for the day – oh I get it in certain Jock bars with Rangers flags on the wall but not the rest. They’ve been duller than dull throughout, with tactics that seem to rely on stifling other sides when not just kicking them and then nicking it with own-goals. That with Robben’s falling over scweaming act, van Bommel somehow not being red-carded. Though them not passing to van Persie was funny. But christ it was a team where the manager said the first name on the team sheet was Kuyt, who showed in every game what an incredibly limited player he is. Oh yes he can run about a bit but beyond that his only talent is as a look-a-likey – Lotney ‘Sloth’ Fratelli from The Goonies.
Now that ain’t the beautiful game.
And neither was much else on show by the Dutch. From the moment van Persie put in the first scummy tackle through van Bommel’s personal crusade to have his ex-Barca team-mate carried off with two shocking challenges, via de Jong’s impersonation of Carl Douglas, to the whinging and moaning that followed Iniesta’s winner, carried on past the final whistle and is still going on.
Could Howard Webb have stamped it out earlier? Probably, the Dutch were lucky he didn’t forget where he was and confuse their Oranje for lillywhite. If it had been Spurs, especially against say ManUre it would have turned out differently. Van Bommel should have gone for that first flying leap at Iniesta, little Spaniard was lucky his foot wasn’t fully planted, could have been a career ender. De Jong’s kung-fu kick should also have been red, if he had pushed someone over like that it would have been a yellow so a kick, straight red. The Dutch stated they had a plan to stifle the Spanish from playing but they also had the plan of knowing the ref wouldn’t want to send anyone off in the final, especially not early on or indeed in the first half.
At some point, I think was still in the first half, I was left saying that the game didn’t need a goal – as is the cliché – but a red card.
Says it all that apart from Robben the only decent Dutch player on the park was their ‘keeper. The Dutch will have to go back to the drawing board as they’ve found now that they can’t win the World Cup with total football nor with anti-football.
Spain may have lost their first game, scored more than one goal twice, never going past 2 on the scoresheet and won all the knockout games 1-0 – which in a way summed up the whole tournament – but they deserved the win. Were they the best team? Well they had to play a lot of the tournament with 10 men with Torres playing every game whether in the starting XI or coming off the bench. He might as well have laid on the grass as he did in the final few minutes of the final for all the good he did for the most part. Still went up for his medal, must be a Liverpool thing, remember Harry Kewell at the ’05 Champions League final?
Funny though, even if he did very little his presence probably brought out the best in the team as Villa could be out left, to come inside. The newly arrived Barca striker isn’t the same on his own up the middle, it tends to mean Spain have no one in the box when they’re attacking. It was one of the decisions by Del Bosque I thought was strange, nullifying his only real scoring option. Even stranger was taking him off for Torres in extra-time, at worst surely Villa would have been a penalty taker? Torres came on and looked just like a Liverpool old boy. Dalglish? Rush? Toshack? Keegan? No, Heskey. First touch went for miles and the he fell over, very Emile.
So played with 10 men and quite frankly their back 4 aren’t the best. Ramos got a load of plaudits but defensively very rarely tested but when he was wasn’t the best. And for all the talk of his attacking play, yes he stood out on the wing most of the time but his delivery was useless most of the time and for all the space he had in front of him on so many occasions he didn’t attack as he could have and dithered a lot. Capdevila, even worse ditherer on the left, Puyol, slow and past his use by date, got away with a lot and Pique you just feel he’s going to have a lazy moment. But it doesn’t matter because Xavi, Iniesta etc. kept the ball and they won it all.
Worst World Cup, maybe. Worst final? Probably not worse than ’94 – ’90 wasn’t great either was it. Spoilt by bad teams employing bad tactics, the ball – shouldn’t have to master a ball just before the biggest show in town – and vuvuzelas.
Roll on Brazil in four years time…